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Video Training Review: PhotoshopCAFE Masterclass – Animal Painting In Adobe Photoshop By Patrick LaMontagne

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In Animal Painting In Adobe Photoshop , award winning artist Patrick LaMontagne will teach you how to paint a photorealistic animal from scratch. He starts from the very beginning with how to select reference photos, moving through the entire painting process and then to adding the finishing touches. Throughout you will the see the techniques of painting from the view of a practicing artist.

This training is not about converting a photo to a painting through the use of software manipulation, but rather using traditional painting techniques within the digital world. The photo is used for nothing more than it would be in the analog world of traditional painting – for a reference. All of the actual painting is done freehand on the computer using a Wacom Pen Tablet and Adobe Photoshop. While there are some Photoshop tools that are used to enhance the painting, all of the strokes are done freehand.

PhotoshopCAFE Masterclass – Animal Painting In Adobe Photoshop

The training comes on a DVD and can be run on a Mac, PC, or iPad. The interface is very easy to use and Animal Painting In Adobe Photoshop , comes as a fast loading DVD that is presented in high definition video and breaks out into 17 lessons that run 3 hrs. and 17 minutes in length.

Lesson 1, “Reference Photo Selection and Prep (22:16),” begins by showing you what makes for a good reference photograph and what does not. Sometimes it takes several different images to be able to get enough detail to be able to paint from. This lesson also shows you how to optimize your photos to get the most detail out of them.

Lesson 2, “Document Setup (2:07),” Now takes a look at setting up your canvas for both efficiency and optimal memory usage. This is especially important for early on in the painting when you really want speed. Here you will look at sizing, resolution, and Lesson 3, “Composition (12:43),” now shows you the best way to set up your image for painting. You will look at the rule of thirds as well as other topics that you will want to consider such as styles of painting, layouts, as well as the little things that you can modify to make for a great overall composition.

Lesson 4, “Basic Brushwork and Keeping it Simple (9:18),” now will show you how to set up the background and what is the best painting brush to create that background and for much of the early structure work. This entire painting is done from scratch and so this is the beginning of actual painting. Lesson 5, “Painting in Low-Resolution (14:56),” examines why the structure of your painting needs to come before the detail as well as examining some topics about painting in Photoshop. Here you will get the basics of shaping out your creation.

PhotoshopCAFE Masterclass – Animal Painting In Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 6, “Workflow Tips, Tricks, and Techniques (7:01),” shows you several transformational tricks that will be used in the next lesson at high-speed. These include the use of transformation tools like liquefy, warp tool, transform, and more. Lesson 7, “Painting in Low-res (High Speed) (5:40),” now takes about 45 minutes in painting down to less than six minutes as you see how the instructor works. Though the painting is done quickly, the dialog talks you through the instructor’s method of work and what he is considering as he works.

Lesson 8, “Dodge, Burn, and Blend Modes (12:12),” shows you a number of different techniques that don’t really use a painting style brush to modify your paintings. Here you will use the Dodge tool to brighten things up, the Burn too to darken things, and the blend modes to do similar modifications. Lesson 9, “Continuing Painting in Low-res (High Speed) (5:59),” takes you through the techniques he showed you in lesson 8 while processing at high-speed. He continues to tighten up the features and make the painting look like the character in the reference photo. Throughout he comments on all the little things that he does and what he is thinking while he was working.

Lesson 10, “Creating Hair and Texture Brushes (22:17),” describes exactly how to create your own hair and texture brushes. In this lesson you will see how to build from scratch three hair brushes and one texture brush that will be used in the remaining lessons as well as to finish off the low resolution image. Lesson 11, “Painting with Hair Brushes in Low-res (6:34),” is the final lesson on working in low resolution. It looks at some final techniques for making sure the structure is sound and where the details can’t be taken any further for low resolution work. The goal here is to make sure all of the structural elements are right while you are still in low resolution.

PhotoshopCAFE Masterclass – Animal Painting In Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 12, “Painting in High Resolution (27:44),” now shows how to take your painting up to high resolution – anything above 250 pixels per inch, and some of the initial adjustment you can make to sharpen the image as well as some of the problems you might run into after making the switch. Here you really look at the eyes and details that focus in the center of the painting which is where you want to have the most details. This takes a lot of work to create the detail. Lesson 13, “Painting in High-res (High Speed) (11:07),” continues where lesson 12 left off. This time the video is in high speed mode with the instructor offering comments and techniques as he works.

Lesson 14, “A Larger Size and Greater Detail (12:28),” means that you are moving your painting from 8 x 10 to 16 x 20 and then working with the super fine detail. Here you will see where the potential pitfalls are and how you can get around them as well as additional tips when working with clients. Lesson 15, “Turning Good into Great (High Speed) (6:57),” now works the fine details that most people wouldn’t necessarily notice, but really take it to the next level in terms of quality. These are still using all the techniques that were used earlier, but at a much more subtle level that make your painting look more realistic.

Lesson 16, “And Your Little Dog, Too (15:40),” will take the finished painting and enhance it using some Photoshop tricks. These are all very subtle and will allow you to add your own final personal touches to your work. They include enhancing shadows and highlights, adding a vignette, and other techniques. Lesson 17, “Loading this Video on iPad (2:11),” is not part of the training, but does show you how to add these files to your iPad or other devices.

Animal Painting In Adobe Photoshop is really well done and is very through in its presentation. In particular, I never had a sensation of ‘What did he do?’ In fact he really made it seem like anyone could do this as long as you were willing to put in the time and work that it takes to produce a quality image.

PhotoshopCAFE Masterclass – Animal Painting In Adobe Photoshop

At first I didn’t think I would like the high speed portion, but he was very clear and in many points, anticipatory of what was coming up so that you could be sure to understand what was going on before it happened. And I am very glad that he did not just cut to where the image was at a later point to where you missed the actual techniques.

I also liked the fact that this was not a painting that he had done before and so all of the challenges that he had to deal with, the viewer is able to witness first hand. The interface for Animal Painting In Adobe Photoshop is also very easy to use and gives you the ability to move forward and back easily as well as move to specific videos.

Animal Painting In Adobe Photoshop is available from Photoshop Café for $59.99. If you want to learn how to create a high quality portrait of an animal using nothing more than Photoshop and a Wacom tablet, then I very highly recommend Animal Painting In Adobe Photoshop .

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.